My Little Pony Tales: Slumber Party (S01E01)
Title: Slumber Party
Summary: The ponies have a slumber party and tell a ghost story. Without an actual ghost.
Note: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is referred to as FiM, because I’m basically lazy.
So. bat contacted me and was like, “Hey, you know how we took that minor break after MLP n’ Friends? Well, it’s been two and a half years. Are we done with our break yet?” and I was like, “Uh…”
And here we are.
(Also, bat is always with a lowercase b, if you’re new. I’m not being lazy.) [bat: I cannot explain why that is the case, it’s been that way for decades now. And that was a terrible dad joke. Apologies.]
So, after a lengthy confab as we tried to understand the G3 mish-mash of 2 minute minisodes and feature-length movies, I finally remembered that I had a copy of Tales, which came before G3 chronologically. So then we just had a goofy half-hour where we completely ignored any semblance of order and just shouted “mine” whenever a title came up that appealed to us. [bat: That will be the only literal fun we have with this series, I’m afraid.]
And I ended up with this. Also, I’ve already bagsied the slumber party episode of FiM, so that’s a small win. I do love a slumber party.
I don’t actually know what this show is all about, other than the ponies go to school, have petty fights and walk on their back legs. Because that’s what you want when you watch a show about magical ponies. [bat: I feel as though G2 was the beginning of the ‘humanization’ of the Ponies; moving away from magic and nonsense to more reality-based nonsense. IT DOESN’T WORK AND IT’S FUCKING CREEPY.]
So, let’s go.
Oh, also, I finally broke down and bought Freemake. There will be no more shitty watermarks on the videos I upload.
As always, we start with an earworm, but I can’t hate on it too much, because the longer the theme song, the shorter my recap. Oh yes, and they have an outro too. God bless 80s 90s animations, who kept things short by filling time with credits.
First thoughts on this? Well, I’m not sure how I would feel as a kid watching my beloved ponies get on a school bus. They didn’t have time for school. They were too busy saving the world from the Smooze. I kind of imprinted on that as the big bad, and you wouldn’t believe how often it came back. Sometimes like eight times in a single week. The Smooze was played by an ugly 70s throw in very flammable nylon.
Also, there’s this.
Hrmm. So… the animation still isn’t pretty yet, huh?
Oh. Um. This is going to be awkward. I don’t know these ponies. They’re from late in the line, and some are European releases only, and I don’t own them. You may say, but Dove, you are in Europe, if anyone, bat should be clueless, so what’s your excuse? Well, first of all, have you met bat? She’s fucking awesome. She’s probably researched the shit out of this series and knows everything. [bat: You’re really spinning my contributions when all I did was google some Pony wikis, Dove. I appreciate the praise, though!] Secondly, because they are limited releases, the prices go high, and since I don’t really know the ponies, I’m reluctant to seek them out, when I could save that money to buy an Argie Sugarberry. [bat: FWIW, I never had any of these in my collection.]
Oh, I know Bon Bon. Actually, I thought I had her, but my database says no.
Let’s do a roll call here.
And for those who are horrified by the art style, here’s a link to the actual toys that relate to these ponies, which are adorable. I really want Clover. I’ve always loved that shy pose.
Except, um, Bright Eyes is white in the title card and as a toy, but often aqua in the show. *shrugs* C’est la vie for MLP.
We open with the ponies playing charades and then the dad pony comes in and asks if they want an ice cream sundae. I’m just going to present this exactly as I saw it and let you all draw your own conclusions. I may have ranted at bat on Twitter. [bat: Yes, I woke up to a hilarious rant, full well knowing said rant was going to happen, since I had viewed this episode before Dove started her recap and had noted/screamed about the same event but since it was Dove’s chosen episode, I waited for her to bring it up.]
“It’s nut time”??? Followed by all the moaning. When the girls are covered in white creamy goo?
Writers/animators, wtf? [bat: Well, since we had kidnapping, enslavement, drug usage, and shady musicians trying to steal children in G1, I think they were just keeping the spirit of the thing. Although this incident is so 1990s, it is nostalgia at this point.] [Dove: Disappointingly, this is the weirdest thing that happens.]
After Sweetheart puts the cherry on top, there is a crack of thunder and flash of lightning, and the power goes out. (A win for cheap animation. There should be more power cuts in this show. You just need a blank screen and voiceovers.)
Patch says it could be the work of ghosts, but her dad comes in and says there is no such thing.
Also, the power is back.
Then they eat the ice cream and Mommy Pony (omg, seriously, I hate not knowing the names, but at the same time, I want to see how long we go before the show names them) says they need to hit the showers because it’s bedtime. Um, unless it was a particularly hot day, I never showered at a friend’s house as a small child. Definitely not at a slumber party.
Cut to the bedroom, where there are enough beds, with wooden headboards, for everyone. Damn, these ponies are rich. I’m 42 and still can’t really afford a nice headboard. That’s a real flex, “Oh, and this is just our room of unused beds. That’s mahogany, you know.” [bat: Um, Dove, do you remember all the beds in Paradise Estate episodes? I mean, granted, that whole estate was magick’d into existence by the freaking Moochick, so OF COURSE there was a gazillion beds. And eventually angry furniture that turned on the Ponies, but I digress.] [Dove: I’m really going to miss angry furniture. I can just tell that this show will not give us angry furniture.]
Bright Eyes has a sock puppet and is doing some kind of British accent – the generic kind that isn’t really from anywhere in Britain, and I guess this is a teacher they’re mocking from the way she’s telling them all off.
Oh, wait, it’s not a room full of unused beds. It’s just half a room. The other half has the rest in sleeping bags on the floor. OK. Never mind. [bat: This actually sounds like slumber parties I have attended.]
Anyway, Bright Eyes mocking a teacher is actually one of the more normal things I’ve seen in pre-FiM MLP. This quickly dissolves into a pillow fight.
Mommy Pony walks in on this gigglefest, and sternly says, “I thought I said bedtime.”
Dude, seriously, anyone who tries to keep order at a middle grade sleepover is a fool. Just ask them to keep the noise down to a dull roar and let them giggle themselves to sleep. [bat: …yeah, no, what usually works (at least in my memories of slumber parties I’ve attended) is one parent loses their shit and YELLS DEMANDS and everyone is too freaked out to disobey.]
The ponies look really heartbroken, like they’ve just been caught murdering Spike the Dragon [bat: *snort* They wouldn’t be heartbroken if Spike was murdered; not G1 Spike.], and then Mommy softens and says sleep tight. Well, that was overblown, wasn’t it. Maybe that level of distress was unnecessary? Or maybe the animators were working on such tight schedules they were like, “I can either give you indifference or ‘my baby sister just died’, anything else is too expensive and time-consuming.”
They go to sleep and we get an exterior shot showing that there’s a thunderstorm. All the ponies wake up on a loud rumble of thunder, and Sweetheart whines, “I’m scared, it’s like a bad dream.”
Dude. It’s a thunder storm. You’re not my old cat. You are capable of speech. You’re inside a house made of bricks. My old cat was terrified of thunderstorms because, from his point of view, apropos of nothing, the sky was bellowing at him. You understand that it’s thunder, so how is this like a bad dream? It’s weather.
“It’s just a storm,” one pony comments dismissively.
“A perfect storm,” Patch comments ominously. Her tone is certainly a choice here. It sounds like a threat. “For a ghost story,” she adds.
Nobody is up for it, but Patch bullies them into it by saying they’re scared. This works perfectly.
They build a tent and with a tingle of a triangle, we cut to inside the tent where Patch is telling a story with a flashlight under her chin. The animators had no idea how to pull this spooky effect off, so they just flood filled a triangle with yellow. A+
Patch’s story goes:
Once upon a time a pony named Squire [bat: Complete with Pony bowl-cut mullet. Amazing.] lived in a castle not far from here, “just beyond Paradise Lake”. (I like this as continuity. Why wouldn’t they name the lake outside Paradise Estate that? Well, except for the fact it’s a river and a waterfall, I mean? Also, the castle is grey with red turrets. It is not Dream Castle.) Squire goes to his dad and tells him of his dream to become a knight. Dad tells him he must tame Basil the dragon.
Squire goes into the forest, armed with a sword, which certainly implies his intention to stab Basil, doesn’t it?
An attack from above! A big snake loops itself around Squire’s neck, and hisses. Patch tells us that Squire hisses back, but the animation shows him blowing a raspberry. Either way, the snake nopes out of there post-haste.
I was just about to comment that this must be an olden pony tale, because Squire is walking on all fours like a normal pony, but as he gets inside the cave where Basil lives, he switches to back feet only. FFS.
I really don’t like this walking on hindlegs thing. It’s a bit Animal Farm. [bat: “We can’t put humans in this, so let’s make the Ponies ACT LIKE HUMANS! They should walk like them, too!” “Brilliant! Break out the champagne!”]
On the subject of uppity animals subjugating others, Squire finds Basil and announces that he will tame him. Basil is not into that and breathes fire at him. And I like to believe that he ate BBQ pony for dinner that night, but Squire just looks faintly confused. The fire burns a hole in the ground and Squire falls into it.
By the time he gets out, Basil is long gone, and the legend is that Squire is still out there, searching for Basil.
This is not a ghost story. This is the problem with kids shows. Ghost stories are super engaging at slumber parties, but if you kill off anyone, you’re destroying the innocence of children, so how do you get a ghost if nobody dies? You just have to hope that kids are too stupid to notice that an alive person is not a ghost. And unfortunately, they’re probably not.
I mean, some are. I know someone who thinks Coyote Ugly is the greatest film she’s ever seen. I know we all have our guilty pleasures. I personally adore Con Air for lolzy fun. But if you ask me for the greatest movie I’ve ever seen? It’s going to be One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Stand By Me. [bat: Both filmed in the state I live in!] I did thoroughly question her, I was like, “Not your funnest movie, or the one you watch the most. What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen – the best story or the most beautiful or the one that stayed with you the longest?” and still she stuck with Coyote Ugly. So I’m pretty sure she at least would not notice you can’t be alive and a ghost at the same time, but most people are smarter than that.
(And if you think I’m being a snob based only on media, she said plenty of stupid things relating to other topics. Like, “Isn’t it funny that everyone has an accent, except people from Kent?” [she was from Kent], or “Why don’t they put the disabled toilets upstairs in the pub, since so few people use them?” She was dim.)
There is a creaking sound, and they decide that Squire must be in the attic. How old are these ponies supposed to be? I was assuming middle-grade – I’ve read a lot of Sweet Valley Twins, in the past two and a half years. All of them, in fact – but now I’m thinking younger. [bat: According to the My Little Wiki the Pony girls are supposed to be ten years old, so like.. 3rd or 4th grade?] [Dove: Ok, that makes sense, I was thinking they were more like twelve, and there is a bit of a shift between 10 and 12 – or there is in the UK because you change schools at 11.]
Patch decides to investigate the noise, and reluctantly they all follow.
In the attic, they all freak out when they see “the dragon”. Which is actually a sheet billowing next to an open window. I can’t even pretend for a moment it looks like a dragon. A scary human, maybe, but not a dragon. Did someone forget to tell the animators what we were doing?
Starlight pulls the sheet down and reveals and empty birdcage.
And now we have a long song that is absolutely not a bop, as the cool kids say. Or have we moved on from “bop”?
But I had to sit through it, so here, you can indulge too. Be aware it’s so bad that it’s not even on YouTube.
After that song, we get a scare of the cat meowing. And that’s that.
We cut to Patch in bed while the others sleep, and ghostly Squire appearing floating above her. He thanks her for telling the story, and tells her to let him know if she ever sees Basil. Um, how? He doesn’t leave any way to contact him.
Clover asks who she’s talking to, and she says, “Nobody, it was just a dream.” And then we see that Squire is still there, floating above her. And she adds, “Or maybe it wasn’t.”
And it ends.
To be honest, I was expecting a lot worse. There wasn’t a lot of story, but nothing as obnoxious as G1 happened. There was no bay-bee-tawk, which I am eternally grateful for. [bat: …be careful what you say, Dove.] [Dove: *has now watched the next episode* Argh.]
It wasn’t very interesting, but nor was it infuriating. The song took up a lot of the runtime, but honestly, what else were they going to put in there? There wasn’t any conflict.
The animation is still a bit on the scary side, and is not offset by nostalgia, but I would be happier if I could remember who the ponies were.
I graded it C- because there was nothing really wrong with it, but nothing particularly engaging about it either. “Meh” was my general feeling.
[bat: I tried to find something I didn’t hate or tolerably enjoyed about this episode but found nothing. It does have a very specific early 90s feel, especially the slumber party part. Because that was still very much a thing children did then. The end had a very ‘we stole this from a deleted scene from Ghostbusters!’ vibe, even though there wasn’t really talking in the deleted movie scene, it was just shortened and inserted into a montage. But yeah. Originally I was going to go with a D but I’m changing my grade to a C-. This was the least harmful episode I have as of yet witnessed. Which you can take to mean THINGS GET SO MUCH WORSE VERY SOON.]
Oh well, over to bat, who’s doing two in a row, because of the “screw logic” approach we took to this particular series.
[bat: I have regrets. So many regrets.] [Dove: “Let’s go in blind!” we said. “It’ll be fun!” we said.]